I watched a video tonight of a talk given by Richard J. Davidson. It had been brought to my attention by an email from the magazine, Scientific American.
Davidson spoke of the scientific study of ethics and more specifically of compassion and meditation on compassionate thoughts influencing behavior. I admit I could have laughed along with the Buddhist monks he mentioned who watching him give a demonstration that involved attaching electrodes to his colleagues head in order to study compassion scientifically made the entire room of quite a few monks burst into laughter.
It was wonderful to see practitioners work with children with their fears and social difficulty and watch as they became aware of how they felt and how they could learn how to control those feelings that were harmful or hurt them, learning to be compassionate to each other and themselves.
Some of you know me as a writer of novels of supernatural romantic suspense. My interests have always been wide ranging including a happy mix of science (me & my microscope when I was five years old), art (me drawing and painting away since well since I discovered crayolas, water colors and even carbon paper tracing from one of my grandmother's Vogue magazines. My other grandmother made the best chicken soup and homemade bread and could grow any flower or vegetable or fruit tree. Well, the peach tree never did bear fruit but then I grew up in Chicago.
In many ways I had the best of all possible worlds. Beautiful mom, handsome dad, my very special brother and sister, two wonderful grandfathers and one great-grandmother!
But there was also abandonment, divorce, battered children, and alcoholism along with the love and the best of intentions. So growing up was wonderful and terrible at the same time, and eventually I became aware of my anger and wanted to forgive and to love those who could do no different and to unburden myself.
So I sat down on my living room floor and decided to meditate until I had forgiven those I wanted and needed to forgive. Or so I thought.
I meditated for about one minute.
The jumped up and thought I need to see something! Maybe a heart. I paint too, so I had a small canvas and paints and brushes. Everything I needed. So I painted a big red heart. And thought - this looks really terrible! So I wiped it mostly away. And then I began again. But not reaching for the image of a heart. Instead, I watched my hand. Watched as it painted a heart. It was finished very quickly. Half an hour? Maybe less. It was one of those rare times when I wasn't judging myself. Just allowed my hand to paint, moving with it's own wisdom. And was astonished. Wow! I wanted to do a lot more of these! I eventually did 26 heart paintings that I call The Power of the Heart Series. All different colors and each one different. The only choice I made was the color. Those paintings painted themselves or one might say I had a lot of help from an unseen source. All I know for sure was that it felt magical.
I named that painting, "Compassion." And the very odd thing is that while I have photographed those paintings and a friend who is a professional photographer also shot them, I've never been able to get a photo of "Compassion!"
Which I find frustrating, and also mysterious, and pleasing in a way. It's as if it can't be 'captured' by the camera.
I'm not sure of forgiveness. I don't entirely understand it. But Compassion I have a feeling for and eventually came to take it to heart. And when I did it healed me. Not entirely, not yet. But very nearly so. I am definitely a work in progress.
You can see my heart paintings if you like on this site. Find them in the drop down menu under "More."